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Mary McAleese recalls personal tragedy that struck on her wedding day

admin | September 26, 2020

Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese spoke about the murder of two family friends, that occurred on her wedding day, during an appearance on Friday night’s Late Late Show.

On the day of her wedding to husband Martin in 1976, two close family friends were killed by loyalist paramilitaries.

McAleese, 69, appeared on the show ahead of the release of her memoir Here’s The Story and she told host Ryan Tubridy about how violence in Northern Ireland impacted on her wedding day. “I’m the oldest of nine, a lot of responsibility in that. I always wanted an older brother, so a few doors up from where I lived, there was a family of O’Reilly’s, big family, 13 of them.

“I loved them, I was in and out of their house and I had them tormented…but particularly Tony and Miles, two of the boys who were my kind of surrogate big brothers.”

She added: “They bought a restaurant and pub where in fact Martin and I had intended on having our wedding reception, I told Tony about the numbers because we’re from a really big clan, and he said ‘Your ma will never put up with that.’ Anyway we ended up moving it to a hotel in Newry and on the morning of my wedding, loyalists….my father warned them not to buy the place they bought, incidentally. He was worried about where it was.

“Loyalist paramilitaries came in on that morning and shot them and set fire to them both and killed them.”

Ms McAleese revealed her family had tried to keep the news from her so she could enjoy her big day but she knew something was wrong during the wedding reception. “I couldn’t believe how quickly they wanted to get rid of us. We got into our good clothes and off we went. But I was told emphatically leaving, ‘don’t ring home now, just have your honeymoon, don’t bother ringing. Don’t read newspapers.'”

She added: “After we had our first lovely meal in Dublin as a married couple, I thought I would ring home just in case. The words ‘don’t ring home’ bothered me, and that’s when I found out Tony and Miles were dead.”

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